Illustrator and writer Meera Lee Patel describes why she began painting soon after she began working a day job:
"I started painting as a way to find myself, as a way to remind myself of who I was when I was a little bit happier. Who I was when I was making things. When I started painting, I felt so connected to myself and felt connect to other living things, just by being somebody who was making something from nothing and putting it out in the world. I decided that is what I wanted to do."
In my latest podcast interview, Meera and I dig into her journey as an artist, and how she made a profound creative shift to become a full-time artist and writer. You can listen to the full interview above or here on iTunes.
Her latest book, My Friend Fear, is an amazing work that turns fear into something beautiful.
In our discussion we cover some deeply important topics for any artist or writer:
You can find Meera in the following places:
Today I speak with writer Jocelyn K. Glei about how digital media and technology has created a crisis for many writers and artists. Their days are spent running on the treadmill of digital and social media, chained to their computers and phones, and increasingly unable to break away in order to complete bigger creative projects.
We dig into the neuroscience behind why this is, and she shares a wide range of strategies and tactics to take back your attention.
You can find Jocelyn in the following places:
In this podcast, I chat with Brooklyn-based artist and designer, Kelli Anderson. We dig into
You can find Kelli in the following places:
Today I'm excited to share my interview with author and publishing expert Jane Friedman. In our discussion, we dig into the nuts and bolts on how to earn a living as a writer.
We frame the conversation around her new book, The Business of Being a Writer, which shatters romantic assumptions around publishing, but then arms you with practical advice on how to develop your career.
We dig into:
We also explore Jane's own career path. Okay, perhaps my favorite quote from our discussion is how she expressed the challenge of selling a book in the age of distraction:
"It's so easy to not read a book"
Click 'play' above to listen to our conversation, or find the podcast on iTunes.
You can find Janes book here: The Business of Being a Writer
In my latest podcast, I interview psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, who helps millions calm their anxiety and be their authentic selves. In our chat, we dig into topics that writers and artists constantly struggle with, including:
We talk about her new book, How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, which Susan Cain calls "a groundbreaking roadmap to finally being your true, authentic self."
About Ellen: Ellen Hendriksen is a clinical psychologist who helps millions calm their anxiety and be their authentic selves through her award-winning Savvy Psychologist podcast, which has been downloaded over 5 million times, and in her clinic at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Quiet Revolution, and many other media outlets.
In this podcast episode, I talk to illustrator Will Terry. We dig deep into how he went from freelance gigs as an illustrator to developing a sustainable career with multiple revenue streams.
Will illustrates children's books, sells his art at conventions, and is the co-founder of an online art school called The School of Visual Storytelling.
In our chat, he share specifics about how he got his first jobs in illustration, and how he developed his network with other professionals, even though he worked alone from home. His story reminded me of what I hear from so many successful artists and writers: even though he is an introvert, he has spent years developing collaborations and sharing his work in public.
Will opens up about the downs of his career too. He recalled a time when his financial situation looked so bad that he thought, "All of this financial mess will go away when I die."
What was most astounding from this story was how he turned down financial help from a relative when he desperately needed the money. He concluded that all of his later success came from that single decision to dig his way out on his own. He says,
"If I had taken that money, I don't think I would be doing the things I'm doing today. Today my life feels so much better and happier, almost zero stress."
Will share such practical advice, including how he grew his business. He talks about how he got more work, with a pretty incredible insight: "You actually have to ask for it." He assume that if he turned in freelance work to a client, that they would reach out to him if they wanted more work. It turns out, they were ready to hire him again, but were waiting for him to tell them. You have to ask.
You can find will at the following places:
You can find Dan Blank at:
On January 29th, artist Marc Johns saw this on social media: Drew Barrymore shared a photo of her daughter wearing a jacket that had Marc's art on it.
Amazing right? This is the type of thing that many artists dream about: a celebrity sharing their work with 8 million followers. But there was a problem. The jacket was not an officially licensed product. The company who made it stole Marc's art. Drew didn't know this.
I sat down and talked to Marc about this, and he shared an extremely honest account of what happened, and what he did about it. He doesn't hold anything back, and shares how this made him consider giving up art entirely.
Luckily, this particular story has a happy ending, but I know that isn't the case for many artists. Marc and I also talk about the complexity that all creators face when dealing with art, money, and piracy.
You can find Dan Blank at:
Today I speak with Srini Rao, who is the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast, and the author of Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best.
In this chat we discuss how to find more time to do the creative work that you love.
You can find Srini at:
You can find Dan Blank at:
How do you navigate creative burnout? That is something that illustrator/author Rebecca Green has been working through.
Her work is incredible, but a couple months ago, she shared this with her 225,000 Instagram followers:
"I have to be honest, my well is empty. Bone dry. It’s been a rough last six months and recently, strange as it sounds, when I show up to my drawing table, I have an immense urge to weep, sing, or run. Anything but make art."
"This is of course, extremely difficult when you make art for a living, so I suppress those feelings and keep pushing and showing up and am happy to do so."
"I am though, experiencing a major burn out that’s unlike anything I’ve ever gone through. Work has always ebbed and flowed with periods of intense creativity and moments of resentment, but this time feels a little too deep. I find myself unmotivated, lost, and not sure who I am, what I make or why any of it matters."
When someone looks at Becca's body of work and accomplishments from the outside, it is tempting to feel that her success makes her fortunate and that it makes creating easier.
The line from above that rings in my head the most is this one:
"I find myself unmotivated, lost, and not sure who I am, what I make or why any of it matters."
When I read this, I emailed her and asked if she would be open to coming on my podcast and talking about the topic of creative burnout, and dig into her journey as an artist.
To my great delight -- she said yes!
What Becca shares in this interview is relevant to someone working in any creative field.
You can find Becca in the following places:
I sat down with book coach Jennie Nash to run a Q&A session with writers. Jennie has many super powers, and on this call we discussed aspects of how to write a better book, how to manage your creative time, and the connection between audience engagement and writing.
Jennie gives brutally honest answers about what it takes to improve your craft and reach readers, and gives practical examples of what that looks like.
Often, writers and artists talk about how to get better at their craft, publish their work, and engage an audience. They look for tricks and trends and shortcuts and "best practices."
Yet, in working with creative professionals over the years, I have found that there is a topic which can undermine all of their other efforts: neglecting their health. Not just physical health, but mental health, including stress, anxiety, loneliness, and sleep.
Today's guest, author Joanna Penn, is here to talk about her new book, The Heathy Writer, which she co-wrote with Dr. Euan Lawson. In our chat, we dig deep into ways that writers can improve their health, and Joanna is incredibly honest in sharing her own story.
You can find The Healthy Writer here:
And Joanna here:
This podcast episode digs into why I feel you should join or create a mastermind group, and my tips on how to get the most value out of it.
I review different types of mastermind groups, how they can help you find more success as a creative professional, and best practices for collaborating with others.
I also dig into the specifics of how I run my own mastermind group, which is now open for enrollment. They begin on January 1, 2018. I have three, one for each topic:
Register here: http://wegrowmedia.com/mm/
If you wondered about the reality of what it takes to find true success with your craft, I beg of you to listen to my interview with children's book author Stacy McAnulty.
She published 6 books this year, and 6 books in 2016. The road to that success? Dramatically longer and more involved that even I had ever considered.
Her journey (and our interview) began with her saying “I gave myself permission" to write. This was more than 15 years ago, when she wrote her first book one handed, without punctuation or capitalization, because she wrote while her first child while she wrote.
Our interview ends with these words:
“I am still rejected all the time. It never stops being a part of the job. Rejections expand. Now I get rejected from conferences, schools, bookstore visits. There is a lot more rejection that Woo-hoo! moments. But you have to ask, and you have to try.”
The story in between that start and that ending is just astounding. Listen to it here.
You can find Stacy at http://www.stacymcanulty.com.
Today I interview guitarist, producer, and founder of Windham Hill Records, Will Ackerman. You likely haven't heard of him, but he looms large in my life. This is why:
That is the "what" of Will Ackerman. But the "How" is what fascinates me. How on earth did he do this? In my hourlong interview with Will, I was kind of blown away by his message. When I asked him how he went from being a guitarist to earning tens of millions of dollars a year through his record label, he said:
"If you begin something that is inspired entirely by heart. And you are not chasing something that is indicated in the current market to be viable. And because of the love of it, You are willing to do something whether it has economic potential or not. That it is something you love. And in so doing, you end up being a unique thing, that happens to hit the world between the eyes."
Can you imagine this? Not following trends, not constatnly checking social media, not worrying about gaining followers, but instead: following your heart. Focusing on your craft. Becoming MORE LIKE YOURSELF, and less like others.
You can find Will at http://williamackerman.com
In today's conversation, I speak with artist Marc Johns about how he manages distraction, and how he has forged a career as an artist that supports his entire family.
We went deep into the reality of how he developed his career, made the transition to becoming an artist, and how he manages and markets his work on a day-to-day basis.
You can find Marc at:
In this week's episode, I explore the essential elements for making a creative shift in your life. What is a creative shift? It is doubling down on not just dreaming about your creative work, but actually doing it.
In the podcast, I mention my next mastermind session, which you can learn more about at: http://wegrowmedia.com/cs
Today I am speaking with actor Jason Liles.
If you are thinking, "Dan, I'm a writer, what do I care about this actor friend of yours?" I encourage you to listen to what Jason shares. This is not only a wonderful story of success, but he shares specific tactics that I think every writer and creative professional NEEDS to use if they hope to find success. Here are some highlights:
Thank you to Jason for taking the time to share your story and advice. You can find Jason in the following places:
Today I want to recommend that you become completely obsessed with Dani Shapiro's work. Why? Because she talks about the emotional side of the creative process in a way that I think every writer and artist needs to hear.
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Dani was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on”Super Soul Sunday.”
In the conversation, we dig into so much, including:
Author Jon Acuff says this: “One of the cheapest, fastest ways to change your life is to read a book.” I strongly encourage you to read Dani’s book, Still Writing. Listen to the podcast. If you are wondering, “Gee Dan, how can I break through what is holding me back with my creative work,” I think you and your work will be changed by what she shares.
Samantha Hahn is a Brooklyn-based illustrator, creative director, and author. If you are someone who wants to pursue your creative vision, while also earning a living and raising a family, then you have to listen to what Samantha shares.
I was blown away by how she balanced so many practical aspects of developing her career and working within the marketplace, along with the ways that she stays inspired and nurtures her personal and creative needs.
When I researched her background in preparing for the interview, I realized why: growing up, her mother was a commercial artist, and her father worked in the music industry. It’s as if her childhood had been an apprenticeship at the crux of creativity and commerce. There is so much to learn from her experience!
As I went through the recording of our conversation, I kept coming back to these two quotes from Samantha — how they balance two critical sides of what it means to be a creative professional:
Ooomph. Listening to Samantha is like taking a masterclass in developing your career and your artistic vision.
Note: this interview was recorded a little while back, so her kids are a bit older now, and she has been focusing more of her attention on her creative direction work in addition to illustration.
How do you forge your own path to success with your creative work? Today, I talk to Elise Blaha Cripe, who tells us how she turned a blog into platform, a podcast, and a series of products that has helped her thrive. But more than that, I was blown away by her reflection on what she has built, after 10+ years: "I have felt more and more fulfilled by the work that I am doing.”
Elise Blaha Cripe is a crafter and founder of the Get to Work Book, a daily planner and goal-setting journal.
Among her many accomplishments:
In this time, she moved from being a person who shows you the behind-the-scenes of craft projects, to someone at the helm of a big standalone product line. It’s a powerful creative shift.
You can find more from Dan Blank at:
There was a moment in illustrator and cartoonist Jake Parker’s career, where this is what he, his wife and five children faced:
“There was a summer there where we had no money. We went through savings. We had some food storage we saved for when times get hard, and we were like, “Let’s break out the mac and cheese and beans.”
“I was really depressed, I took serious stock of everything. I said, “This is never going to happen.”
In this moment, he did something that I found astounding. He didn’t hide away, he didn’t diminish. Instead he did this:
“I doubled down on sharing online and hitting my social media hard. I really figured out where jobs were coming from, and about three months after, everything started falling into place.”
I can’t even express to you how excited I am to share my interview with Jake Parker. If you make creative work of any sort, and wonder, “How can I take this full-time?” you will learn so much from what Jake shares.
Jake is the perfect example of why it matters to:
If you are a writer hoping to craft a career as an author, you are going to LOVE today’s story. I recently chatted with novelist Tammy Greenwood, who shared with me the harrowing journey to getting her 12th novel published.
She and I last spoke a couple years back, in an interview titled “The “Terrifying Crisis” of Finding the Second Act to Her Writing Career.” Since that time, Tammy released two new books. Today’s story takes us through the process of finding the third act to her writing career.
I encourage you to listen to our conversation here (on my blog or via iTunes), where she takes us step by step through this journey:
You have to listen to the interview to see how all of this ends!
What I love about Tammy’s story is how it shows the reality of living the life of an author. She concludes:
“Risk is terrifying, but it is critical to finding success as an artist.”
Amongst all of this, we talk about how much she has been working full-time on top of the writing, teaching 7 courses. But she is in transition again, because being an author is a journey. She is scaling back her teaching, with this mission:
“I’m ready to be a writer first.”
You can find my first interview with Tammy from 2015 here: “The “Terrifying Crisis” of Finding the Second Act to Her Writing Career. An Interview with Novelist Tammy Greenwood.”
You can find Dan Blank and other episodes at http://wegrowmedia.com
How do you earn a full-time living as an artist, while raising three kids, and navigating through a failed business venture? Today we find out.
Jay Alders is a professional artist, whose paintings, design work, and photography embodies the surf culture. But that alone is not what inspired me to interview him for the podcast.
I grew up with Jay. After high school, I lost touch with him, and by the time he re-emerged in my life, he was working full-time as an artist from his home studio, and a collaborator with many of creative people. He and his wife Chelsea (equally as awesome as Jay), seemed to have this strange duality:
1. They lived deeply creative lives, with a focus on appreciation, giving back, getting involved, and finding balance.
2. They were each incredibly hard workers, earning a living through pure grit and taking risks needed to create sustainability around their work.
In the past few years, I watched -- astounded -- as Jay and Chelsea had three kids back to back to back. In the blink of an eye, they went to "that cool couple that I know" to a family of five. Then, I was dumbfounded when Jay opened up a huge physical location on the Jersey shore -- a gallery and event space. I just couldn't believe how bold the vision was.
But that venture didn't make it. About a year after opening, he shut it down.
My interview today delves into a range of topics that I think are critical to anyone who wants to make a living with their creative work, while also honoring their creative process and lifestyle with those they love.
* Lessons from a failed business that actually brought him closer to his art and his family.
* How he works from his home studio, while parenting three kids, and supporting his wife who has her own business as well.
* How he finds the time (and energy) to create.
* Why he feels marketing and business are a welcome part of creative work.
* His path to going full-time as an artist.
* The value of taking care of yourself, even when you are swamped, so that you can take care of those who rely on you, and you creative work.
You can find Jay at: http://JayAlders.com
KJ Dell'Antonia made a huge shift in her career, giving up her career as a lawyer and New York City prosecutor to becoming a full-time writer. She became a columnist and contributing editor for the New York Times‘ Well Family page, amongst many other writing credentials. In this interview, we dig into the specific ways that she made the transition while also raising her family.
Colby Sharp is a teacher and advocate for the power of reading. In this interview, you will hear my incredulity Colby's amazing enthusiasm and his many collaborations. You can find Colby at @ColbySharp on Twitter and at https://sharpread.wordpress.com